Mock poster, "The Future of Culture: 1.8% African American", 2007

Mock poster, "The Future of Culture: 0.4% Native American", 2007

The Future of Culture

As a Community Arts student at California College of the Arts (CCA), one of my major projects involved a critique school's centennial slogan “The Future of Culture.” In 2007, I designed a counter campaign that questioned the meaning of “culture” within the context of a primarily Caucasian arts institution, and commented on its use of statistical language to measure diversity. The campaign included mock posters that mimicked CCA’s graphic design scheme and juxtaposed their slogan with the published racial demographics of the college. Additionally, hundreds of students wore buttons I created, displaying their racial representation on campus as a percentage of the total student population. After a strong positive response from the community, I recorded and published over one hundred transcribed interviews with students, faculty, and staff   (scroll down to see full report), who outlined proposed solutions to CCA's narrowly Eurocentric curriculum and lack of diverse faculty and students.

California College of the Arts street banner celebrating its centennial in 2007

 

Custom CCA "Future of Culture" crayons

 

Undergraduate student posing with "0.6%" button 


CCA: 100 The Future of Culture Report

Published by the California College of the Arts Center for Art & Public Life 2007

Introduction:

In 2007, California College of the Arts (CCA) celebrated one hundred years by positioning itself in the community with banners that read “CCA 100: The Future of Culture”. The banners currently hang from street posts in communities across San Francisco and Oakland, and this slogan has raised questions regarding CCA’s message. In an effort to better understand how my school specifically represents  “TheFuture of Culture”, I’ve posed the following questions to the CCA community:

How is culture defined? What does “The Future of Culture” mean? How does diversity relate to this statement? As “The Future of Culture”, how are we fostering an environment that develops and nurtures a diversity of perspectives? Is CCA is a diverse campus? What can the school do to support more diversity on campus?

In the following pages you will read an accumulation of responses gathered over the course of a semester, as a result of my student-generated campaign that engaged students, faculty, and staff in a school-wide discussion regarding “The Future of Culture” and its relationship to diversity at CCA. Although these interviews offer only a glimpse into the experience of many at CCA, my hope is that it can provide a useful tool and a platform for ongoing dialogue and development. 

 

Camille Hoffman

Student, Community Arts

California College of the Arts

Fall, 2007

 

Part 1: Quotes from the CCA Community

Vanessa Ayala, student  

“Even though they may not share the same belief system as me or the same lifestyle, it’s good to just walk around the campus and see a face that looks like you. I never realized how important that is to see your own face in the environment that you live in. I think that that’s something that everybody at this school doesn’t realize.” 

Yee Jan Bao, professor  

“If you have a diverse faculty and a diverse student body, what it does is it brings different ideas into the community. It supervises a richer intellectual situation for the students. It’s important so you’re not teaching what they call ethnocentric values.” 

Miranda Bergman, student

“I think that culture in it’s most rich sense and most wonderful possibilities comes from interaction between different groups, diverse groups who know who they are and have had a chance to work with their own cultural strengths and art.” 

Claudia Bernardi, professor

“We need to understand what it may mean to be a person of color adjacent to a reality of social economy that is deficient.” 

Rashad Brown, student

“Everybody knows my name because I’m the ‘Blonde Haired Black Boy’, the only Rashad Brown through the whole school… I have to make sure I watch my back and how I’m portrayed. I’m representing my culture. That’s just a whole lot of weight on my shoulders."

Crow Cianciola, graduate student

“Even among those in terms of economic diversity, a small percentage of those whose financial disadvantage may be offset by a limited amount of scholarship resources…those economic barriers in education translate into racial barriers.” 

Karen Dahl, student

“…We are creating an image of a diversity that doesn’t exist.”  

Allati El Henson, student

“When I first looked at The Future of Culture I thought maybe they’re trying to bring in more diversity…when you’re having them say that and it don’t reflect that most of the time in most of my classes when I’m the only person of color there, are they referring to me in that slogan? In the CCA catalogues I saw more people of color then white people and it was different when I came here.”  

Patricia France, Financial Aid 

“Some of the students I see, great students, have to leave because it all boils down to money. In turn we lose people who are very talented and who could be very beneficial to CCA.”  

Annie Frykholm, student

“As artists we should expect more of ourselves... If we want to be The Future of Culture, we need to first BE The Future of Culture” 

Shylah Hamilton, student/Residential Life staff

“It makes no sense to have students of color here if the faculty cannot support them creatively. It is my hope that CCA will begin to think critically about their reputation, the future of art and how it relates to diversity especially in the art world.”  

Brittany Heisler, student

“You have to deal with all that crap living where I live, working where I work and then go home and be able to do your homework and put everything into it that your supposed to put into it, that you want to put into it but you can’t because you’re drained by then, and then it’s just not worth it anymore."

Pamela Jennings, Student Affairs

“Culture is everywhere, so it’s an issue of what you are exposed to. What do you include in your realm of culture? …I think for any arts institution, if we’re responsible and true to ultimately what the definition of culture is, we have to be responsive and aware of that. Otherwise it’s a very narrow education."

Keith Magruder, student

“I once had an altercation with one of my dorm mates who was laughing about slavery. I took it serious and went to administration because I was really upset. Everybody I talked to said it was a ‘freedom of speech’ kind of thing.”  

Caitlin Olsen, student

“Scholarships should be more available for everyone who needs them.” 

Helena Parriott, student 

“We’re dealing with people here…We’re getting into artistic ideas, but we can’t understand why our classmates might be making art about a particular theme if we don’t understand where they are coming from.” 

Ray Patlan, professor

“Culture does not have a future. Its here, it’s everlasting, it’s constant. Culture is omnipresent once people accept that it is, not can be, or was.” 

Chris Picon, student

“…In reality, all you have to do is look around. Increasing the Diversity scholarships and include other scholarships would really help increase the school’s diversity.” 

Pilar Pumar, student

“When I try and bring up culture, I get critiques from teachers who pat themselves on the back for guessing that my work has African roots... It was kind of difficult, because I wanted to be able to explore my own culture without having so many barriers.” 

Ruben Ramirez, student 

“The culture of this school is segregated. Each department is segregated… There is not as much diversity as I would like to see.” 

Naema Ray, student

“In Community Arts we go out and study culture, but on campus we don’t feel the effects of it.” 

Celia Rodriguez, professor  & CAPL Cohort advisor

“If we can agree that art making is a basic aspect of making culture then I say that The Future of Culture is determined by the value placed on providing opportunity for creative training and expression for the whole of our society, not only those who can afford it…” 

Esther Samuels-Davis, student

“What culture are you talking about? Being at a school that is primarily white in a city that isn’t gives the wrong idea through those banners.” 

Marnika Shelton, student

“I think it’s very deceptive to publicize students of color in the catalogues, when it’s not accurate to the CCA population.” 

Keith Thomas, professor

“A more culturally diverse faculty body will make a big difference because people live and breathe and communicate with what they know…any teacher who’s dealing with global or ethnic issues in their work who’s willing to speak with students will also increase the market because their perspectives make them multilingual.” 

Crystal Vera, student

“The school can make students feel welcome by letting them know there is someone there for them.” 

Vickie Vertiz, Center For Art and Public Life

“I don’t want the Center to be a separate entity. I think the Center really wants to share and promote and market our programs to the larger school so that they know what’s going on. If people did know more then the Center’s programs and philosophy would be embraced.” 

Mike Whitacre, student 

“Culture is about sharing each other’s ideas and becoming aware of each other’s ideas. Not an agreement, but an understanding.” 

Mike Wong, student

“I went to a public arts high school and most of my classmates were Asian, Black, and Hispanic. There was a minority of white people, but they were the ones that went to college ... Seemingly we all had the same opportunities but it never really panned out that way.” 

Robert Yancey, student

“People who could possibly want to study art and who live in the surrounding area are not openly invited… The Future of Culture at CCA represents everyone here living in this space-time continuum.” 

Anonymous professor

“In terms of representation, this school is primarily a monoculture and a lot has to do with a student body and also the faculty body. This is not representative of the society in which we live.” 

Anonymous student

“If a person can't afford to be apart of the school what culture are they apart of? Are they still apart of a future? Are they still significant? ... In order to really create art and to really flourish we have to develop an understanding beyond the boundaries of a really privileged campus.” 

Anonymous student

“We need to be challenged and feel uncomfortable to get anywhere. The problem is we want to be comfortable. When you’re in a majority of course, you feel a lot more comfortable. For me, I’m used to feeling uncomfortable …for me, it sometimes feels like I don’t even speak the same language.” 

Karen Dahl, student

“…We are creating an image of a diversity that doesn’t exist.”  

Allati El Henson, student

“When I first looked at The Future of Culture I thought maybe they’re trying to bring in more diversity…when you’re having them say that and it don’t reflect that most of the time in most of my classes when I’m the only person of color there, are they referring to me in that slogan? In the CCA catalogues I saw more people of color then white people and it was different when I came here.”  

Patricia France, Financial Aid 

“Some of the students I see, great students, have to leave because it all boils down to money. In turn we lose people who are very talented and who could be very beneficial to CCA.”  

Annie Frykholm, student

“As artists we should expect more of ourselves... If we want to be The Future of Culture, we need to first BE The Future of Culture” 

Shylah Hamilton, student/Residential Life staff

“It makes no sense to have students of color here if the faculty cannot support them creatively. It is my hope that CCA will begin to think critically about their reputation, the future of art and how it relates to diversity especially in the art world.”  

Brittany Heisler, student

“You have to deal with all that crap living where I live, working where I work and then go home and be able to do your homework and put everything into it that your supposed to put into it, that you want to put into it but you can’t because you’re drained by then, and then it’s just not worth it anymore."

Pamela Jennings, Student Affairs

“Culture is everywhere, so it’s an issue of what you are exposed to. What do you include in your realm of culture? …I think for any arts institution, if we’re responsible and true to ultimately what the definition of culture is, we have to be responsive and aware of that. Otherwise it’s a very narrow education."

Keith Magruder, student

“I once had an altercation with one of my dorm mates who was laughing about slavery. I took it serious and went to administration because I was really upset. Everybody I talked to said it was a ‘freedom of speech’ kind of thing.”  

Caitlin Olsen, student

“Scholarships should be more available for everyone who needs them.” 

Helena Parriott, student 

“We’re dealing with people here…We’re getting into artistic ideas, but we can’t understand why our classmates might be making art about a particular theme if we don’t understand where they are coming from.” 

Ray Patlan, professor

“Culture does not have a future. Its here, it’s everlasting, it’s constant. Culture is omnipresent once people accept that it is, not can be, or was.” 

Chris Picon, student

“…In reality, all you have to do is look around. Increasing the Diversity scholarships and include other scholarships would really help increase the school’s diversity.” 

Pilar Pumar, student

“When I try and bring up culture, I get critiques from teachers who pat themselves on the back for guessing that my work has African roots... It was kind of difficult, because I wanted to be able to explore my own culture without having so many barriers.” 

Ruben Ramirez, student 

“The culture of this school is segregated. Each department is segregated… There is not as much diversity as I would like to see.” 

Naema Ray, student

“In Community Arts we go out and study culture, but on campus we don’t feel the effects of it.” 

Celia Rodriguez, professor  & CAPL Cohort advisor

“If we can agree that art making is a basic aspect of making culture then I say that The Future of Culture is determined by the value placed on providing opportunity for creative training and expression for the whole of our society, not only those who can afford it…” 

Esther Samuels-Davis, student

“What culture are you talking about? Being at a school that is primarily white in a city that isn’t gives the wrong idea through those banners.” 

Marnika Shelton, student

“I think it’s very deceptive to publicize students of color in the catalogues, when it’s not accurate to the CCA population.” 

Keith Thomas, professor

“A more culturally diverse faculty body will make a big difference because people live and breathe and communicate with what they know…any teacher who’s dealing with global or ethnic issues in their work who’s willing to speak with students will also increase the market because their perspectives make them multilingual.” 

Crystal Vera, student

“The school can make students feel welcome by letting them know there is someone there for them.” 

Vickie Vertiz, Center For Art and Public Life

“I don’t want the Center to be a separate entity. I think the Center really wants to share and promote and market our programs to the larger school so that they know what’s going on. If people did know more then the Center’s programs and philosophy would be embraced.” 

Mike Whitacre, student 

“Culture is about sharing each other’s ideas and becoming aware of each other’s ideas. Not an agreement, but an understanding.” 

Mike Wong, student

“I went to a public arts high school and most of my classmates were Asian, Black, and Hispanic. There was a minority of white people, but they were the ones that went to college ... Seemingly we all had the same opportunities but it never really panned out that way.” 

Robert Yancey, student

“People who could possibly want to study art and who live in the surrounding area are not openly invited… The Future of Culture at CCA represents everyone here living in this space-time continuum.” 

Anonymous professor

“In terms of representation, this school is primarily a monoculture and a lot has to do with a student body and also the faculty body. This is not representative of the society in which we live.” 

Anonymous student

“If a person can't afford to be apart of the school what culture are they apart of? Are they still apart of a future? Are they still significant? ... In order to really create art and to really flourish we have to develop an understanding beyond the boundaries of a really privileged campus.” 

Anonymous student

“We need to be challenged and feel uncomfortable to get anywhere. The problem is we want to be comfortable. When you’re in a majority of course, you feel a lot more comfortable. For me, I’m used to feeling uncomfortable …for me, it sometimes feels like I don’t even speak the same language.” 

Part 2:  Future of Culture and Diversity Responses from the CCA Community

Vanessa Ayala, student

“The whole Idea of The Future of Culture just doesn’t help with my whole being confused. I really try hard to balance who I am in both worlds. My family’s from a different country so they live in a different world and their mentality is in a whole different place. And then to come here and everybody else’s mentality is in a completely different other place… I think that everything I’ve been through so far has happened for a reason. And every single part of it negative or positive overall is a positive. The only thing I’ve been doing since freshmen year has been learning, and growing, and changing, through conflicts and that’s what I’ve been making art about... It’s something I’m going to really be able to take away with me because I understand more of what painting is and more of what art is and now I appreciate the work that other people are doing as well. I’m in this crossroads right now and I’m just learning what I need to do. It’s going to take a little bit of time but I’m going to just explode with all this knowledge that I’ve grown to have. I think that that’s where my career and my artwork as a creative person is going. All these pieces are going to come together for me, and there’s got to be an outcome after that. Freshman year there wasn’t really nobody [like me] at all…I think it’s kind of getting better this year. I’m starting to see more faces at the school. Even though they may not share the same belief system as me or the same lifestyle, it’s good to just walk around the campus and see a face that looks like you. I never realized how important that is to see your own face in the environment that you live in. I think that that’s something that everybody at this school doesn’t realize. For me to be pulled out of an environment and placed in another one and not have any type of comfort zone to be in even for a little bit was so difficult. In the beginning it was really, really bad and I couldn’t talk to no one. I had the Cohort, thank God. If it wasn’t for the Cohort I think I would have just died. I just can’t believe the stuff that I went through living over at the Clifton dorms. I was just kind of tired of people telling me ‘you’ve never done that before? You’ve never seen this before?’ I would say ‘We don’t do this where I’m from’ and it would make me feel almost like an outcast because I wasn’t introduced to things that they were used to in their own culture. At least in white culture, the things that are common to them, the things that everybody else does, is not something that everybody in other cultures do. To me, it’s good to be introduced to new things. When I came here, there was just all this negative energy, but it’s so big to just put yourself aside and to just experience new things. Weather it’s crazy, or it’s just different, those are the things that I really appreciate and I’d really like to share with people. A lot of the times, the only real reason why I never experienced anything was because of money. I hear there are so many different opportunities to do everything. The friends that you make take you places and you think that you would of never done this on your own, but because of their privilege you get to share in their privilege as well, and I’ve experienced things that I’ve never done before and it just amazing. I’d like to share it with my family at home…the stuff that’s out there that life offers for people; everybody should have a chance to experience that. It’s crazy how someone might be stuck in their own world and not see all the other things that life has to offer. In the very end, a lot of the reasons why there aren’t a lot of people of color is because we ain’t got the money for it. The only reason I’m at this school is because I got a scholarship. It’s the only reason why I continue to remain here.”

 

Yee Jan Bao, professor

“What minority student will want to come here if the faculty is all white? It doesn’t make sense. In terms of students coming here, its tuff because a lot minority students don’t encourage their kids to go to school for art because it’s not making money. Raising the scholarship money would be the only way to bring more of these students in. Of course CCA is a tuition driven school, so I don’t know how to solve that problem. I think the problem is that the faculty needs to be more diverse. Without that presence of minority teachers here, the school is not going to attract many minority students. If you have a diverse faculty and a diverse student body, what it does is it brings different ideas into the community. It supervises a richer intellectual situation for the students. It’s important so you’re not teaching what they call “ethnocentric” values. Schools like Harvard and Yale are providing scholarships for anyone that’s accepted and can’t afford it. I think that’s a good idea. That’s the way to go. If someone can get in, then they should come here for free. I feel that the school needs to have more presence of minorities because without that they can’t really recruit more minorities. The problem was that in this meeting I attended about recruitment, every single teacher was white. So that doesn’t make sense to me. They want to recruit minorities but how are they going to achieve that? …In my diversity trips to LA when we do recruitment, there’s generally speaking seven white people and myself. So I feel that that’s a little problematic because when a student is trying to find out about the school, right away they realize it’s all white.”

 

Miranda Bergman, student

 

“Culture is the way people live, the ways people communicate with each other, what is prioritized, what is the relationship with the environment, and how the creative forces are used. Culture is language, land, and nationality. Any type of seeking for education and creativity is in the picture of The Future, but I think it is arrogant of CCA to say it is The Future of Culture. If they are talking about their institution as The Future of Culture, its sadly lacking in terms of being a mirror for the wider culture and life especially in Oakland. Oakland has a large African American population yet the population at CCA is very small. I don’t think that the slogan is ill-meaning, but I think that it shows a white “blind-spot” to think about calling this private, very expensive, greatly majority white people’s institution The Future of Culture. I think that culture in it’s most rich sense and most wonderful possibilities comes from interaction between different groups, diverse groups who know who they are and have had a chance to work with their own cultural strengths and art. You then put that together where there’s a dialogue and not a hierarchy. It is easier said then done. Art school especially, could be a vessel for interaction on a very rich level between cultural strands that could weave a very interesting tapestry. It would create things that could be compared and contrasted, looked at and learned from. The school will have to change its priorities greatly around funding. The only way to bring that vision to any kind of reality would be to give full scholarships and not putting people in huge debt that would be hard to carry. Also having a really sophisticated and clever student and staff run retention program that is culturally literate to all the groups included and that help keep the students in the school. Other then that I don’t see any other way it could be done. I think that this intention has been started and fertilized by the Center for Art and Public Life, but it’s a matter of building on that and making choices to direct funds more towards scholarships rather than expansion. I hope that we can find a Future for Culture. The Future for the human family is only going to be possible on this planet if we do discover how to utilize everyone’s contributions. Institutions that help distill that are really important. But if they are going to remain elitist and dominant in one culture then I don’t think that’s The Future of Culture that will be most beneficial for us and the planet…Diversity does not just mean racial and national origins although that’s really critical. Diversity in its richest includes people coming from all classes and what people coming from “less-privileged” backgrounds have to offer, and also for me as an older student, age is also an interesting experience. It’s been a way for me to judge my own ageism, for me to notice it and critique it and learn from younger people…The more mix-up there is, if there are pedagogical practices that assure all people of being in the net, the more interesting and diverse the campus can be.”

 

Claudia Bernardi, professor

“We really need to investigate the culture that we are apart of when we create this community called CCA and who are the members of CCA? Why is it that the majority of this community is white, and there are so few students of color? I think that we are at a time in which this is unacceptable. Its also peculiar in that one would imagine that the arts of any other cultural milieu is the one that predisposes a much more elastic presence and ideas that change…When culture is comfortable it needs to go elsewhere. It is a moving target. It’s always changing, it’s always redefining. The first step is to question how is it possible that we continue to be unalarmed about the lack of diversity? When we identify that, the next step would be to be alarmed and to be bringing up the issue of why at first it was not addressed, and now that we see this, what are the possible amendments and recommendations? Because this is a school that is primarily funded by students, that equation feels awkward in the reading of what CCA is about. CCA has a history that can pretty much be identified as a tuition driven institution and still is. We really need to put all efforts in understanding the history of why in 2007 we are one of the very few schools in the country that is so unvaried in terms of ethnicity. One possible reason for this is the allocation of funds or the lack of funding for scholarships. We are making statements on behalf of differences, which we call racial but are in fact economic. We need to understand what it may mean to be a person of color adjacent to a reality of social economy that is deficient. All that would predispose a fabulous new set of awareness at CCA. I teach as part the Center for Art and Public Life and on issues of social and human rights it would be great to follow up and teach a class that deals specifically with these issues. Using Che Guevara’s very wise thinking he may say ‘All revolutions are unthinkable until they are unstoppable.’ We are at a good time when we are recognizing that it is an intolerable situation and now it simply needs to change. This must be where the priority is. Once diversity is a clear priority then there will be more funding. Not only in giving financial aid, but recognizing the retention of students of color is also very important.”

 

Rashad Brown, student

“To me culture is family and I think it has a lot to do with how you were raised. Culture has a whole lot to do with income too, because the way you do everything in life has to do with money and how you strive to make things perfect and suitable. Culture has a lot to do with your state of wealth and your up bringing. Culture is a broad topic. Color doesn’t determine culture to me, but it is the mindset. Culture for me revolves around money, because the way you do things revolves around how much money you have to do them. The Future of Culture [at CCA] is rich then, then it’s a big wonderful day, bright and wonderful and colorful, and no one is struggling. There won’t be any envy towards one another because everyone’s on the same playing field. CCA is using The Future of Culture as a way to bring in people. Since I work in ESO (Enrollment Services Office) I see how they use it a lot, and I realize that everyone that works in ESO is of color and so we are the first people that you see. I give tours to the incoming students and I believe that that’s something the incoming students think they’re about to see like a whole other culture that’s diverse since I’m the first person that they see…You see nothing but different races and ethnicities like in the catalogues that CCA puts out there. When you get here, it’s not like that at all. It’s like a big illusion of some sort. That at first really shocked me to an extreme sense when I first got here. I was like ‘Well where are these people at?’ I saw you in the catalogue [Camille Hoffman] so I was like oh ok so she does go here. But when I asked about some of the other people I found out that they were people who went here long ago. So now they just trying to throw them in here to make it seem so diverse when it’s not at all. I think it’s seen, but no one talks about it. It’s in your face, but no one is saying anything about it because they’re scared to say something... Already, a lot of people here have that means of income so they don’t care because they’re not paying for anything anyways. I talk to some students and they see art school as a camp. They say, ‘I don’t really want to be here, this is just where my parents sent me because they wanted to be in France for a year’. You know, I struggle to just get here, and here I’m thinking that I about to be around people who share the same goal in their art. When I start to talk to people, people are just here because they can afford it. I wish I had some of these opportunities. It hurts when I’m hearing some people saying this. When I’m in classes my teachers take it that way too. As I speak my mind to people, they don’t understand where I’m coming from, and where I’m coming from, it’s hard. I don’t have time to spend money on frivolous activities and just go out and do those types of things because I can. If I’m doing something it’s for some benefit or some growing. I’m the only black person in the classroom that comes from that. Even if I had a Black teacher someone of color who would even understand the logistics of where I’m coming from, I wouldn’t have these issues or fighting with the fact that they’re saying where The Future of Culture. I’m always getting into these semi arguments with my teachers when I’m in class because they say ‘you got the money, go here and do that’, but I don’t. Just because they see me here, they just see me as a big dollar sign. Since they see me in this school, apparently I’m that 1.8% [African American] that’s rich. It’s the issue I always have with all of my classes is; the professors and teachers are not of color and they already come from a wealthy background. I was just highly upset when I came here and I’d see this thing The Future of Culture and I realized that it’s not the case at all. It’s like they’re trying to play on the fact that I am here as The Future of Culture but there’s no catering to me. I’m being used to bring in people like myself but it’s an extremely false advertisement. If I came here and I didn’t know some people like myself like Vanessa, and if I didn’t know anything about the Cohort I would have left. I’ve been given the run around...It’s like I’m the cash cow to them. I’m here and I’m thinking ‘if you’re giving me this much money and I get here and I’m only 1.8% of the school, I think I deserve a little more to even be around this right now…I have to be careful not to fall into the ‘angry black man stereotype’. Everybody knows my name because I’m the ‘Blonde Haired Black Boy’, the only Rashad Brown through the whole school, so whatever I do, it’s gonna be known. So I have to make sure I watch my back and how I’m portrayed. I’m representing my culture. That’s just a whole lot of weight on my shoulders. I’m hardly around anybody that even understands my culture...it makes me constantly keep thinking about what I do and not to act out like I would want to. It’s a big self-control type thing and that’s one of the reasons I don’t want to go here anymore. To me it’s just ignorance to the sense that you’re just not knowing of another race or culture and your claiming this is The Future of Culture…how are you claiming something you know nothing about? And once I’m here, you’re still not trying to understand where I come from or what I’m about… I know they’re only going to accept a small cluster of students of color to begin with and I know so many other of students of color applied because so many of my other friends who accepted everywhere else weren’t accepted here.”

 

Crow Cianciola, graduate student

“My initial reaction to the future of culture was sort of an anxiety as I saw it meaning a really remitted class of people who represented the ingredients of that culture. Those that go to a private art institution are an economically set group of people. Even among those in terms of economic diversity, a small percentage of those whose financial disadvantage may be offset by a limited amount of scholarship resources. Literally you do notice that those economic barriers in education translate into racial barriers. When you talk about art history surveys being Eurocentric, that’s no big surprise and yet programs do it over and over again. It’s becoming clear where there’s obvious absences when you look around…we’re all noticing that we are all talking about representations of race and ethnicity and racism in media and visual culture when there’s a striking absence of either of those topics or no one in the room to represent that…those who do represent that face the dilemma of weather or not to be the spokesperson. You get to a point where it’s apparent, even if you’re just talking about curriculum and not about the fact that most of your peers are white; we end up colliding with the topics of race and culture. I think we’re ill prepared for those discussions, and I don’t think those discussions should fall on the shoulders of a few people. This is a very vibrant and complex community that these two campuses are in, and I’m wondering how the institution is interacting with those communities. When you see a poster that says The Future of Culture on it, it raises the question of what culture you’re talking about."

 

Karen Dahl, student

“Pretentious representation. The race issue is the first that comes to mind. That sense of the word is also tied into the upper class, which I think The Future of Culture implies. It would be interesting to see where the administration stands…we are creating an image of a diversity that doesn’t exist.”

 

Allati El Henson, student

“For me culture is about the way you go about doing things, it’s the way you handle yourself and the way that you talk. When I first looked at The Future of Culture I thought maybe they’re trying to bring in more diversity as though they’re trying to have a new beginning and trying to have culture incorporated. But then again when you’re having them say that and it don’t reflect that most of the time in most of my classes when I’m the only person of color there, are they referring to me in that slogan? In the CCA catalogues I saw more people of color then white people and it was different when I came here. Where I come from is so foreign to them. Some things, I can’t talk about or I can’t say because of who I’m around because people won’t understand or they’ll take it the wrong way. Here some people who aren’t black slip up with the ‘N’ word and they act like it’s ok. They say that they didn’t mean it that way, but it don’t matter how you mean it or what kind of context you were saying it in. It’s really disrespectful to me. Because I go here and have to maintain this certain front, I can’t do nothing but catch them up on their b…t and let them know about it. But then again it’s like I almost feel like they’re getting away with some something. It really pisses me off that don’t nobody else feel my pain because they’re not like me and they’re not my color. As of right now, it seems like they doing their best to get me enough money for tuition to stay here, but I feel like it’s other people that is less fortunate then me that didn’t graduate with a 4.25 and didn’t get all these other scholarships that you have to have these stupendous grades for. You have to be able to support those people who are not academically intact but who are super talented. Academics can come along the way but if you got talent then that’s talent that shouldn’t be wasted…Down the way there are so many talented people but they just don’t got the drive because school didn’t prepare them to do that, where for them there was never a focus on art and what they like to do so they never found out what it was. So they just run to the streets, they just run to selling drugs to make fast money instead of waiting for the slow money and expanding their mind...In my art history class, I feel like my teacher is somewhat doing her best to incorporate other cultures but there is more of a focus on European art. I feel like every time we skip to a new culture they make it seem like we learned from them instead of the other way around. If you think I’m wrong you open the books. What they do to cover it all up is kill everybody and take their s…t and hang it up in museums to be awed at. Meanwhile it was in somebody’s home, or palace, or temple. [At CCA] I see a little bit happening, because when I went to Castelmont in East Oakland they had Ariel [CCA Community Student Fellow] who was teaching from CCA, and whenever I had questions she could give me details on the school. But I don’t feel like it should just be Community Arts. It’s good that they have a Community Arts major but it shouldn’t be this one group that’s doing it. It seems like the people who are in Community Arts are people who are from the communities. It’s never anybody who’s from like the valley that just got it made in the shade in the summertime. It’s always somebody that came out the hood too and trying to help some more people. It’s never the other way around…It’s all really sad but I try really hard to hold my composure. I’ve got talent and time, and I’m going to just mix it all together and make something. My mom came from Kuwait in Palestine where they’d overshadow women but she’d love to do art. She and I used to always draw and paint. We used to be so poor we’d run out of paper and drew on the walls. I used to see all my mom’s art and stuff and I didn’t understand why she didn’t go for it and try to get a career in it and she told me there was no place for her in that field…that’s why I want to do it. That’s why I’m striving for this and trying to get as much as I possibly can, so I can say ‘I got you mom, I’m gonna do it even if you couldn’t’.”

 

Patricia France, Financial Aid

“We ask these students ‘will they be able to handle it’. Some of the students I see, great students, have to leave because it all boils down to money. In turn we lose people who are very talented and who could be very beneficial to CCA. It’s still the same heartache, to see on a day-to-day basis of students who are lost in the shuffle. Staff really sees the struggle, but their hands are tied. The student voice needs to be heard in a constructive way. You really can change it; you just have to speak up. It all has to work together from the top down.”

 

Annie Frykholm, student

“I feel that as a private institution, it [The Future of Culture] is an extremely supremacist thing to say. What about the financially unstable individuals who could not afford to come study here? What does it say to the Oakland/ Berkeley communities? While the intention may have been noble, it was not thought out well. As artists we should expect more of ourselves. Words and phrases such as that are empty. If we want to be The Future of Culture, we need to first BE The Future of Culture, which we are not. At this point, the engineers, mathematicians, and scientists are The Future of our Culture. They are the institutions with political backing; they are the fields, which we are raised to believe will make a difference. If we want to make a difference, we need to be accountable in our communities and make a difference, and educate.”

 

Shylah Hamilton, student/Residential Life

“Culture can be used to describe behaviors and beliefs for a specific social, ethnic or age group. I’m sure CCA defines their new tagline in relation to the social structure here on campus within the arts. While it is nice to believe we, as students are the future of this movement, I feel it is important to think of culture as a way to define a civilization as well. So if I may, I will assume CCA 's tagline actually means, the future of art education excellence for the next 100 years. We all know the United States holds a shameful record when it comes to embracing cultural diversity and we are all familiar with the state of this country 100 years ago so it can be excused that CCA was not a true melting pot at its inception. However, 100 years later CCA has not consistently collaborated with families, schools and community to increase the diversity here on campus. And please know, that I don’t use diversity in a negative manner. Sometimes, the word can take on a divisive connotation, but actually it is bringing together different types of people and cultures, which makes this world an amazing place and would make CCA a better place. I know finances is a major hurdle so perhaps some of our donors would be willing to place more money in scholarships for excellent students of color. Perhaps the students of color who attend CCA can become mentors as part of a class to help encourage these students to come. Perhaps the Provost and board can put more of an emphasis on including more students of color and ways to support them. It makes no sense to have students of color here if the faculty cannot support them creatively. It is my hope that CCA will begin to think critically about their reputation, the future of art and how it relates to diversity especially in the art world. During the next 100 years, it would be nice to see articles in the NY Times or Vogue or other publications showcasing up and coming artists of color and when they are asked, ‘What school did you go to?’ they do not say Cal Arts.” 

 

Brittany Heisler, student

“The Future of Culture involves things that have happened to me; being stalked in my neighborhood every night and sexually harassed by my co-worker. That’s what culture is to me and I’m obviously not doing much to change it because now I’m running back home. You gotta play tuff girl walking down the street in my neighborhood and even then people have something to say. It costs so much goddamn money to go to this school, where else am I supposed to live? I can’t afford Rockridge. Everything was just piling up and it didn’t seem worth it to be here anymore. It’s really sad. You have to deal with all that crap living where I live, working where I work and then go home and be able to do your homework and put everything into it that your supposed to put into it, that you want to put into it but you can’t because you’re drained by then, and then it’s just not worth it anymore. I can’t create my art when my energy is so depleted. My mom has been a waitress in Ohio at the same restaurant in Ohio for 30 years. My dad has been a truck driver for thirty years. They work extremely hard for me to be here. It breaks my heart to talk to them at night to hear how exhausted they are, and what am I making of it? I don’t know if I’m using it to the best of my advantage but everything’s bringing me down so it’s really difficult. I can’t talk to my dad because I don’t want to disappoint him and tell him I’m dropping out.”

 

Pamela Jennings, Student Affairs

“For me, Culture is now. We have to be able to acknowledge what it is; the people, the perspectives, the art, and the connection of what it can mean and does mean for people. When you talk about The Future, are people talking about how it’s being redefined? For me, it’s a hard question to pose. Culture is. It’s never been stagnant. It’s always moving. You can talk about how some people view it differently, where some people don’t view certain things as culture. If a different cultural experience is not something that they’re familiar with, then it might be this idea of culture evolving and changing, and what is it now, verses twenty years ago? But it’s been, regardless of weather it’s been on someone’s radar. Culture is everywhere, so it’s an issue of what you are exposed to. What do you include in your realm of culture? Culture is yesterday, it’s today, it’s tomorrow; it just is…I think for any arts institution, if we’re responsible and true to ultimately what the definition of culture is, we have to be responsive and aware of that. Otherwise it’s a very narrow education. By virtue of that, you’re not really educating people and they’re not having an experience that’s reflective of being part of the world. That is a disservice. It is a point of privilege to have access to education at this level in our country. The responsible thing to do for any group of educators, no matter how that education is structured and formalized, is to have an education that is reflective of the world. At the Center for Art and Public Life, people are having some real impact and influence not only at CCA but far beyond our borders. That speaks well of CCA and some of the commitments there with the majors and the diversity component. There are certainly some concrete things that are being done and there have been efforts in terms of Diversity training and awareness for faculty. There are a variety of things that are happening, but this is a huge undertaking. There are definitely things we can point to that demonstrate a level of commitment, but I think we also offer it within a landscape of realism. It’s a big challenge and a long road. When you talk about education in general in our country, and an arts education that is reflective not only in terms of curriculum but also in terms of the people that are here on all levels, all of that embodies the education and all of that is a process and you have to take steps towards where you’d ultimately like to be. We do have a ways to go, but it’s a challenge on a multitude of levels.”

 

Keith Magruder, student

“Culture for me represents a wide range of people from different backgrounds. My meaning of culture is a lot more people that look like me and the inclusion of other people in the Bay Area, not just whites as in CCA’s version. What they mean is art culture, but even that is screwed up because no one even talks about black artists. I gave a presentation on Romare Bearden and my teacher got really annoyed because I was talking about somebody he doesn’t really know or care much about… Going back to when they recruited me from my school in PG County, it was a pretty much an all black school. The person who came to recruit said CCA had a lot of culture. She said ‘yeah, there’s a lot of culture, there’s a lot of everybody here’. She kind of tricked me because when I finally moved into the dorms, it was just me and this other person; we were the only black people. I once had an alteration with one of my dorm mates who was laughing about slavery. I took it serious and went to administration because I was really upset. Everybody I talked to said it was a ‘freedom of speech’ kind of thing. I actually talked to a lot of people about this; even the old president and he also didn’t take it seriously. When I talked to a teacher about another incident that had occurred that I felt I needed to report, he wanted to have nothing to do with it once I said ‘race’. I think the phrase The Future of Culture is a big joke. If we are The Future of Culture, shouldn’t we be talking about other cultures? Who do we talk about? …In the class I’m in now, a survey course, we haven’t even talked about one black artist. For us to be talking about all of this culture and the art world and everything, there’s a really big piece that is missing. I know people that left because the teachers didn’t understand their work and didn’t understand their background. I had a teacher once who at the beginning of the class and didn’t even know me said ‘what your some kind of graffiti type guy?’ It’s a headache. You pay so much money and you have to deal with this. Things that keep me here are the Center for Art and Public Life and Sonia Manjon, people like Raymond Saunders, Keith Thomas, Josh Greene, a lot of the people who give me a lot of support. And I know that when I get out of college, I’m going to have to deal with this. It’s sad to say, but for me right now, I mine as well face it and get used to it. If CCA wasn’t where it was I wouldn’t be here. The surrounding community is what keeps me here not the school. I can only talk to certain professors, there’s not a lot of people who you can actually talk to who actually care. In Illustration, there is no one I can talk to. There is no one who understands me. I’ve got an illustrator teacher right now who pretty much pays me no attention, but I come out with good work. I don’t get the attention that the other people are getting. My education is compromised yet I pay the same tuition. I got to work 80 times harder, that’s one of the toughest things about being here. We need more diverse staff and I’m not talking about the people working in shipping and receiving or public safety. We need more teachers who actually care about their students and what they’re doing, who knows about the art world and what’s going on in the real world. I see teachers who are stuck in their own world. How can you be an artist stuck in your own world? You feed off of what the world gives you.”

 

Caitlin Olsen, student

“There’s no sense of integration, it’s really disheartening. I’m really interested in why they slapped on the slogan The Future of Culture the same time that they took out the ‘Crafts’ from the name. We almost have a rivalry with the high school next door or Oakland Tech down the street. The recruitment centers probably don’t go to Far West or Oakland Tech… As long as there is a problem with anything I wouldn’t know who to talk to. I want to know where all the money is going. The numbers should be more available. Scholarships should be more available for everyone who needs them. I love CCA; it was my first choice and my only choice. I came here with the hope to learn from the people around me as well as my professors, and that’s why I’m so pissed of because I want it to be better and I know that this place has that absolute capacity.”

 

Helena Parriott, student

“ Culture is a collective practice of people…I think culture and community have a lot to do with each other. It’s interesting to connect the idea of culture to the different communities within our school because the school is mostly white…we try to highlight our diversity level yet our diversity is so low. I always thought of art school as something of privilege to be able to do. You only have the privilege to do art if you have the resources to sustain you. It’s really important that we learn more about other people’s perspectives and how where they are coming from in dealing with this school. We’re dealing with people here… We’re getting into artistic ideas, but we can’t understand why our classmates might be making art about a particular theme if we don’t understand where they are coming from. Communication and discussion on these matters would be really good for the school…panels and speakers who can expand the meaning of real culture and identity, not just art culture.”

 

Ray Patlan, proessor

“The Community Arts Department is the developing the consciousness of the people being the culture, rather than being separated as in the past when it was convenient. Culture does not have a future. Its here, it’s everlasting, it’s constant. Culture is omnipresent once people accept that it is, not can be, or was…the administration needs to have a new face. Diversity needs to start at the top. The student body needs to understand the meaning of diversity and learn from faculty who are a part of diverse experiences…the development of the Community Arts department is a good start, but a lot more can be done.”

 

Chris Picon, student

“ The Future of Culture is really about the youth. In a way we are the future of culture, but there really needs to be an earlier intervention before college. I think CCA could be doing a way better job of reaching out the community and the high schoolers that need those opportunities. I don’t think that CCA is very diverse at all. I think that they do make some effort through the diversity scholarship and there are some classes that focus on diverse themes. But in reality, all you have to do is look around. Increasing the Diversity scholarships and include other scholarships would really help increase the school’s diversity. The Diversity scholarship would really only help me if it were for a lot more.”

 

Pilar Pumar, student

“I don’t think the school’s presentation of The Future of Culture is diverse, I think it is culturally lacking. It only takes into account three colors: Black, White, and Gold. There’s no middle ground. At first I felt that these visuals reflected corporate culture, not my school. Gold to me represents monetary value not art. We’re talking about the future from this present point, and where to go from there, so that leads to the question: Where are we at now? When were talking about culture, culture means so many different things. We can talk about economic culture, community culture, history and family culture, ethnicity, roots. When I first got to this school, I noticed that I was a minority in the class, but I figured once you got into higher education that’s something you got use to seeing. It started coming up for me when I wanted to do work about my culture and my family, and then coming across people in the classrooms who were then asked to do something about history and only coming up with blanks as though they themselves had no history, they had no background. When I try and bring up culture, I get critiques from teachers who pat themselves on the back for guessing that my work has African roots, and that all that sums up the nature and drive of my work. It was kind of difficult, because I wanted to be able to explore my own culture without having so many barriers...being able to have a conversation like in any other class, where my professors would be able to enhance the conversation and give me the tools for which I can further my explorations. At times my experience with culture and talking about those issues in my work has been challenging and frustrating, and occasionally finding prejudice was at first shocking because I wasn’t expecting it. The Cohort has been a way for my to start to talk about these issues, searching out other kids of color…it wasn’t to say that I could only have conversations with these particular people, but there was a level of understanding…I wasn’t finding that in the classroom. I wanted to come to an art school to get a degree and to end up somewhere that really meant a lot to me. It was a privilege to get here and to go to this school. In a way it would have been out of my reach knowing the history of this school. My family couldn’t go to this school. At some point it came to me wanting to go. I’m sure there’s people who have alma mater here, but that’s not my family. The application process took a lot of time and effort. They were asking me ‘Do you really, really want to be here?’ I felt like I had to sell myself. I stay here at CCA for myself because I know that there is something to be found here, it’s just harder to get to it, and I think it will be rewarding to get there but it definitely feels very difficult and I want it to get easier.”

 

Ruben Ramirez, student

“The problems that we experience later are celebrated when they are overcome. That’s culture… The teaching style that this school is built upon will take years to change. The culture of this school is segregated. Each department is segregated… There is not as much diversity as I would like to see. I have no culture. When I go back to Mexico, I get critiqued. When I stay here I get critiqued for being brown…neither side wants me, I’m the guy in between with no culture who’s still trying to find his own identity…here they really revere that you have a culture. Just because I’m Latino, I know what they want from me. They want me to paint like Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, or like some graffiti artist. I’m not going to do that for them. I’m not a clown, I’m something different. When I tell them straight out that I’m not going to paint that way, the pressure is relieved. Eventually I know that I’m going to conform to this structure even though now I claim to be an individualist.” 

 

Naema Ray, student

“I think that the slogan The Future of Culture is an arrogant and pretentious way to bring in money much like dropping the word ‘Crafts’ from the name was. They profit on people who may not understand the value of those words. Being a Community Arts major you really have to understand culture and define culture, and learn how culture works. In terms of how culture relates to art, being fed that we, regardless of other’s opinions are The Future of Culture is almost insulting. Nobody asked my opinion of whether this is how I see The Future. To see it on every street corner is very jarring. How many hours did we delegate about this slogan? Culture is a buzzword especially in an institution where funds can be gained with the more diversity that you have. The words Ethnic, and Diversity, and Culture, and Community are words that are thrown around as buzzwords to effect dialogue in a certain way. I think that Culture here is a negative thing. When you have to fill out those class surveys at the end of the year, it’s a stretch for most of those classes to say how they’re diverse. I don’t think that diversity is truly supported. I think that it is a stretch to say that we are The Future of Culture. Beyond holding a Cohort and some of the classes that they offer, there is really no diversity as far as culture in many of the studio classes, which are really the classes that students care about. I’ve struggled with that. In Community Arts we go out and study culture, but on campus we don’t feel the effects of it. How is Community Arts being made relevant to the rest of my studies here? It’s really a stretch to say that CCA truly supports the Community Arts branch of itself. It seems like one more of those ways to recruit and scratch the surface.” 

 

Celia Rodriguez, professor and Center Cohort Advisor

“Our school systems are not something we value in our American society as a way of transmitting our values and ‘collective human achievements.’ We say that we believe that every child has a right to an education, but we do not legislate that ‘right’ to mean that every child should have the very best education possible in our society. Curriculum that includes creativity& critical thinking, that takes into account the intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and physical health of our children is only accessible to those families and communities that can afford to pay for it.  Our society does not believe in financially supporting the education of ‘every child,’ Public School has become a second-class experience whose stated purpose is that those students whose families are not financially able to afford a first class education, will be able to read, write, cash their paychecks and pay their bills.  Art is considered optional for those children who attend public school.  Art and everything that it means in our society seems to be guaranteed only for those who can afford the experience. If we can agree that art making is a basic aspect of making culture then I say that The Future of Culture is determined by the value placed on providing opportunity for creative training and expression for the whole of our society, not only those who can afford it and that the training, text books, instructors, and the basic core curriculum reflect the truth of the racial and cultural make up of our society. 

 

So let’s focus in on CCA, since this school is where the slogan: “The Future of Culture” originated, and look at what the school proposes to do with its claim to be ‘the future of culture.’ Just the fact that the school can say The Future of Culture open ended like that with out specificity is because they (who ever was at the table thinking up this marketing tool) felt entitled to make such a claim based on huge assumptions about who really produces culture.  The truth is that this country is founded on back of ancient Indigenous cultures thousands of years old that continue to resonate and influence this culture, and that African American, Asian American, Arabic American, Latin American intellectual/cultural contributions are fundamental to the make up of contemporary American culture (to name but a few of the diverse cultures that form our society). Yet all of this cultural history is omitted or marginalized while the core of American culture is always privileged as having begun somewhere at the founding of the Colonies and is always connected to the history of cultural development in Western Europe.  The reality is that racism and economic hierarchies continue to skew our historical understanding of American culture.  In response to the question what is culture: it is an accumulated history of a people’s experience, of how “we” think, believe, and practice.  Is there such a thing as “we” in the United States, because culture is made daily, by many, many people in the US, who will never see the inside of any art school, and that although the everyday makers of culture are rarely acknowledged, artists are definitely trained to recognize and capitalize ‘on a good idea.’ 

 

So the real question is whether CCA is intent on producing artists who are going to continue to replicate what already exists as institutionalized cultural racism in our society? Or is there really an interest in training artists to create foundational societal change?   And if so how will CCA address the fundamental issues of economic disparity, racism, gender bias that underlies the assumptions of who gets to determine what culture is in this society? If CCA proposes to be ‘the future of culture’ then what is the school’s commitment to recognize, prioritize and act to make sure all of us, all our people are represented and included on record as essential to the understanding of our collective history as makers of culture in this nation-state we call America.”

 

Esther Samuels-Davis, student

“What culture are you talking about? Being at a school that is primarily white in a city that isn’t gives the wrong idea through those banners. It makes me embarrassed. You can’t force diversity. We are uncomfortable because of the potential of where this conversation could go…it’s a touchy subject at our school.”

 

Marnika Shelton, student

“It’s very arrogant to say that we are The Future, that we are going to achieve it single-handedly. As far as diversity goes, there’s no way to live up to that. With my financial aid, they are trying to get more students of color to come here. I got a Diversity Scholarship…I don’t really know how to take it. The financial aid is not helping everyone. Just being open minded to where you can find artists and potential is a first step…we should look at the community around CCA. There still is this huge divide between Arts Far West and this campus, which are so close. We could do so much just connecting with these students who are so close. Oakland has the most color out of the Bay Area. It seems that we are not doing much to reach that community. The Center for Art and Public Life is doing a lot in providing that connection, but it needs to come out of more than just the community arts major. I think it’s very deceptive to publicize students of color in the catalogues, when it’s not accurate to the CCA population.”

 

Keith Thomas, professor

“Culture to me represents a root, a place and a history. It is where you feel in history you belong. The Future of Culture is self-identification. …You go in certain neighborhoods and see a pink or blue or purple house and you might ask ‘Why it is that color?’ That’s culture. You might say ‘That doesn’t belong!’ But the question is: ‘According to whose standards? According to the past or according to the future?’ The future says that beautiful white house and that beautiful pink house side by side are going to have to find some union because now the whole notion of culture is so integrated. Now you have to contemplate the white man’s institution and a white man’s house with a little color on it because traditions have changed. The Future is when we can no longer visualize something or stereotype it because it is so broad. We are all so cultural and multiethnic because we have so many different people in us...Currently we are living in a time where we are looking at our skin as reference to culture. We are going to have to zone into a mode separate from just analyzing the physical aspects of what we imagine culture to be and really address it on a more spiritual level. I think that the notion of stereotyping culture will always exist, but the key is how we as a community identify our own symbols. We all want to blend culturally but we also want to stand out and say ‘this is who I am.’ If your brought up in a world where everything looks like you, the magazines look like you, you may not be interested in what for example are some of the Native American national symbols are or what they grew up with. You might say ‘that’s nice, but what’s hot right now? You’re not, because you’re not a priority.’ It’s important to make sure that the people around you are diverse so that your mind can expand and you can understand someone else’s philosophy about life. It’s not a question of liking that philosophy but the idea is to understand and have a respect to listen. We as professors have to set an energy in the room where students feel comfortable enough in expressing their understanding or misunderstanding of what is presented. A more culturally diverse faculty body will make a big difference because people live and breathe and communicate with what they know…I was at a meeting at Mackey Hall, and everyone in the room was white. Our former president said ‘We are looking for someone to hire for this position, someone we know.’ Most likely the people that we know are a lot like us. If I’m the only Negro in the room and you all identify as white, then chances are this position is going to be filled by someone like you. As our faculty body continues to change then so will the diversity of our campus…we can do more about recruiting in different communities of color. Faculty who are dealing with culture and identity in their work, and who can make themselves more available to students, will also really help. Regardless of what their skin looks like, any teacher who’s dealing with global or ethnic issues in their work who’s willing to speak with students will also increase the market because their perspectives make them multilingual. They understand the language of an all white institution and the cultural norms because that’s the majority, but they understand and also recognize the subtleties of different communities of color. …Change is going to occur collectively with the students and how they decide to show their presence. The students have a lot more power in making their concerns known.”

 

Crystal Vera, student

“Culture can be described and defined in so many ways…it’s based on your background, on your ethnicity, your people. At the same you define culture for yourself. All the stuff around you builds you. When it comes to color there is not much around here…Being Latina, the people that speak my language or the people that look like me are very limited…what’s going on with the culture? What’s going on with the people?  What’s going on with CCA and its future? This is the 2000’s and there is still such a small amount of diversity. When I first came here it was sort of like a slap in the face. The school can make students feel welcome by letting them know there is someone there for them.”

 

Vickie Vertiz, Center for Art and Public Life

“For me when I think of culture, I think of heritage. For me that means Mestizo, Mexican-American, multi-layered culture for myself and who I am. So when I first saw The Future of Culture banners, I was like ‘Oh, that’s right, there is another meaning for culture that is very separate from the context that I understand’. I feel that it is in the context of the ‘art world’, which to me seems like something that’s really insulated and not really connected to what’s going on beyond itself, which is not what art is about to me. To me, art is reflective of people’s experiences and what’s going on around them; like birth, and death, and war, and also things like going to school and how much money you have for that. So The Future of Culture banners are pretty interesting to me because if this school refers to itself in that way and they don’t mean the same thing I mean when they say Culture, then I don’t know what they are talking about. Are they talking about some white-walled place where you put up drawings and the same people see it over and over? Culture is in everything you do. My culture is in everything I do. It’s what I hang up in my house, how I talk to my parents, what I cook…so when I see those banners, I think of the Metropolitan Museum. I think of an institution, not art and me in the everyday, which it funny because that’s what the Center (Center For Art & Public Life) does, and the Center is part of the school. The Center is very keen on providing better and richer opportunities for us to learn in this place that we live in. That’s what this work is for, to get people to see how they can create beauty in the world around them. As I continue writing, I realize how I can create the world around me through my art. Therefore, I believe that if all of us in the world were able to not just be artists but be able to create and be creative, we could see ourselves as creators. From that we could see the real power that we have in our lives to create the things around us, both good and bad… I really think that Sonia and everyone at the Center would agree...I don’t want the Center to be a separate entity. I think the Center really wants to share and promote and market our programs to the larger school so that they know what’s going on. If people did know more then the Center’s programs and philosophy would be embraced. I think people really do get excited when they hear about our work, but a lot of people don’t know about us. Our location is difficult because we’re not connected to the main campus. School administrators have told me that they’ve never heard of these programs while they have been around for years. There’s so much going on at this school that people don’t absorb and don’t promote each other’s work. CCA has to want to do more and the administration has to do it itself. The Cohort is part of larger project to bring more diverse students here and to keep them here. It is a retention tool, a leadership development tool, and a networking outlet tool. I’m glad for the Cohort because through it we’ve kept a lot of student’s here, but it’s nuts that it takes an outside foundation [Irvine] to keep students here who were brought in with the premise that they would have enough financial assistance. I don’t think its fare.”

 

Mike Whitacre, student

“The idea of culture is many different people striving to be with one another and understand many different view points. The slogan implies that we have come to a 100% agreement, but that is not what’s important. Culture is about sharing each other’s ideas and becoming aware of each other’s ideas. Not an agreement, but an understanding.  Culture and art is not about holding yourself back, yet many people feel like they have to do that. College is supposed to be about the meshing of ideas. Our response to the past and our present is what art is all about. The Future of Culture is about understanding the past and dealing with the present. To realize difference and to understand difference is what it’s all about.” 

 

Mike Wong, student

“You don’t have to go to art school to be someone to create culture or art in general. There’s a problem for me in seeing those banners all throughout the city. I think that the image that the school is trying to portray through their ads is that CCA is a place that’s diverse and welcoming of people of color. I don’t think that image is very true because here it’s mostly a large percentage of white people. There really isn’t a strong cultural representation at this school. In the Bay Area, white people are a minority… I went to a public arts high school and most of my classmates were Asian, Black, and Hispanic. There was a minority of white people, but they were the ones that went to college even though we were all coming from the same high school. Seemingly we all had the same opportunities but it never really panned out that way.”

 

Robert Yancey, student

“What is the culture of CCA and how is it influencing Oakland? I would say not very much. Oakland right now is about 35% black. CCA doesn’t really reference the Oakland population through the student body. Most of the students aren’t from Oakland. People who could possibly want to study art and who live in the surrounding area are not openly invited. So The Future of Culture at CCA represents everyone here living in this space-time continuum… Students get caught in their own space/time continuum not necessarily dealing with the community or social issues outside of that realm. Our artistic ideas are the same as the ideas of the founders of CCA, so as far as change goes, there’s not a lot of new work because it is set in the culture we live in currently. A lot of CCA students live in this bubble... I don’t think our student body reflects itself in the environment that it’s in. I think CCA does a lot of things to build this bubble around itself. Like at Far West for example, those students can’t even go on our campus. The kids from the area should be able to go to school in their area. The kids from Oakland suffer because they don’t have the same opportunities as those coming from the outside. There are a lot of factors related to the segregation of the Bay Area in order to really be The Future of Culture… A lot of people from upper class backgrounds come from the outside and don’t really understand the dynamics of a place like Oakland. I think bringing people from other areas is a good plan because it’s definitely enriching to know people who don’t have the same background. If you want to be The Future of Culture you want your future to start within your own city limits. CCA as an institute of Culture doesn’t really exist right now. On a certain level there are definitely some deep-rooted issues with race and culture. For them to make the claim that we are The Future of Culture it really has to pan out. From the people I see it’s looking kind of bleak. There are a lot of talented people, but I don’t think they are going to influence culture in the way CCA thinks that they are going to influence culture.”

 

Anonymous professor

“Most people come from different cultural backgrounds. If an institution tries to impose one kind of culture, you’re going to have a lot of problems. The institution’s decision should always be to try and accommodate between the culture that they want to implement and giving voice to the all the different groups that are represented in the school itself. It is a difficult balance to create. The goal is to have a common culture that we all agree on and at the same time al low people to express themselves. There has to be a balance between common consensus and diversity. In terms of representation, this school is primarily a monoculture and a lot has to do with a student body and also the faculty body. This is not representative of the society in which we live. If diversity is in fact a mission of the school, then there should be more efforts put in place to recruit more students who are not normally represented at the school. They should also make it a point to hire more faculty who come from those groups too… What does “The Future of Culture” mean? I have no idea. Is CCA The Future of 21st Century Culture? Is the whole world going to become an artist? I thought about it and I said ‘my goodness! What a presumptuous statement!’ The statement connotes the idea that CCA is a leader representing one particular culture. We live in a society where people do different things. Everything we do that has to do with helping society and being creative in society is important. Not only artists are important, but so are plumbers. I don’t really understand how CCA is going to lead the world or which culture they are going to lead. The Future of Culture connotes a very elitist attitude that needs to be explained.”

 

Anonymous student

"It makes you think what the culture is because that I'm apart of because I'm affiliated with the school. In some ways I'm here to contribute to the CCA community but I also have some issues with the makeup of the school and its efforts put forth to really match what is being said. As students the reality is quite different from what we envision for a diverse environment. Color and gender are not the only things that need to be taken into account, but also the socioeconomic background of people. If a person can't afford to be apart of the school what culture are they apart of? Are they still apart of a future? Are they still significant? In order to be significant you do have to be apart of some culture weather its CCA culture, state, nation, or world culture, they are all forms of a culture that is either inclusive or exclusive. I feel kind of excluded when I see The Future of Culture because I don't necessarily feel apart of that. I think that this is something that should be questioned. Where did that phrase come from? Who came up with it? Where did it come from? Its really tied with a regional type of culture that's underway in both San Francisco and the East Bay, where new cultures are sweeping in and its very obvious and clear that the culture is meant for certain types of people. The Future of Culture pretty much speaks to making art in a high-class society. The looking at art, the appreciating art, and the viewing of art; we want it to be the culture of art rather than the kind of art that can be viewed by everyone. It's a double talk and its important for people to really talk about what is being written and what is being promoted. Diversity can only evolve through a real conversation that involves people who are decision makers and can make an immediate impact. This conversation needs to be happening. In order to really create art and to really flourish we have to develop an understanding beyond the boundaries of a really privileged campus. Recognizing that there is a high school across the street and the magnitude of difference and disparity that is going on. Beside the connection we have with the Center for Art and Public Life, the Arts Far West students aren't allowed to come to this campus and be apart of this community...that in itself is an injustice. For me to see those students and to see that dividing line really rubs me the wrong way. It’s a problem that we aren't welcoming of these kids. There is a lot of divisive tendencies amongst folks on campus between departments and between students and the bureaucracy of the school. Once we get out of the mentality of being oppressed by a bureaucracy, we all pay money to go here and we are all responsible for what goes on here, we all have a role in it."

 

Anonymous student

“Culture is a creative expression with values for people of a society; anything from common ideas and beliefs, to music and the arts. The Future of Culture can mean whatever you want it to mean. It’s not something that’s actually explained to people. It’s just a slogan. It sounds fly, but nobody really knows if there’s anything backing it…we should have some kind of idea of what’s backing it. Designers influence culture and artists influence culture, but the way artists and designers influence culture is not obvious. I think that people who really influence culture are people who aren’t considered important, like people and places where designers get their influences. So if I’m a designer, I’m not really giving credit to something that somebody else who actually started it and did it. Designers copy a lot of shit. There was this quote that a teacher once told me; ‘Good designers borrow, great designers steal’…I see that here at school…everybody wants to be recognized and praised, and praise doesn’t make you better. There needs to be another level where you’re able to receive criticism and know what to do when you receive it. There are people at this school who get caught in a certain style, but is a place where you should have time to experiment and not just following one thing even though its so easy to be doing the same shit over and over again. We need to be challenged and feel uncomfortable to get anywhere. The problem is we want to be comfortable. When you’re in a majority of course, you feel a lot more comfortable. For me, I’m used to feeling uncomfortable…for me, it sometimes feels like I don’t even speak the same language. So its like who can you talk to? I have episodes where I feel very frustrated because of no one understands. There’s no point in speaking to anybody if you don’t have somebody who speaks the same language.”

 

Part 3: Survey Responses

 

Steve Jones, professor

1.) How would you define “Culture”?            

Culture is the big picture everything exists within culture. And contrary to popular belief, design (or art or architecture, etc. do not create culture they, like everything, is influenced by culture). Culture is deeply held beliefs and systems that rationalize and justify our existence – it’s our God(s), the way we prepare our food, the way we dress, our rituals, our institutions, why it’s okay to kill a cow, or not. It’s why we go to war when we see our culture being challenged or offended.

 

2.) How does CCA represent this statement?

Culture is timeless. The question might be the future of which culture? Culture is predatory bigger, stronger ones seek to use systems (political, militaristic) to destroy weaker cultures. The future of my (black, West Indian) culture is good. Historically, always under assault, it is self-renewing and has developed and re-developed coming out stronger and more creative after each assault (and expropriation). 

 

3.) How does CCA represent this statement?

CCA is not the future of my culture. The culture of CCA (as it is now) represents the silencing of my culture or at the best a pale representation. 

 

4.) How does diversity relate to this statement?

More diversity means more of my culture and in turn more cultures allow my culture to learn, practice, and grow. Without diversity that does not happen (but only at institutions like CCA). Outside of CCA, my culture is polymorphic, by virtue of being an out-group (culture) in a larger in-group (context) culture. Without diversity at CCA members of the in-group culture suffers do not learn, practice or grow. 

 

5.) Do you feel that CCA is a diverse campus? Why or why not?

No I do not believe that CCA is a diverse campus (as it relates to racial diversity). This is not an opinion this is fact. The numbers say so. Me, and people who look like me represent 1.8% of the student body probably less for the faculty. In my definition of diversity (which is most likely more elevated than the standard definition) CCA is not diverse in terms of thought or pedagogy. 

 

6.) What can the school do to support more diversity on campus?

If CCA supported diversity on campus CCA would have a stronger social and support network for black and brown students. If CCA supported diversity on campus it would have more faculty of color that students of color can relate to. If CCA supported diversity on campus CCA would offer more financial incentives for students of lower economic backgrounds – the best artist come from the streets. If CCA supported diversity on campus it would redesign its logo – and not use Futura. If CCA supported diversity on campus CCA would be serious about diversity and not just give it lip service. If the true future of culture (i.e. CCAc) depended on the institution being serious or being exterminated – it would happen really quickly.”

 

Anonymous Professor 

 

 1.) How would you define “Culture”?            

 I like Lisa Lowe's definition: “It is through culture that the subject becomes, acts, and speaks itself as “American.”  It is likewise in culture that individuals and collectivities struggle and remember and, in that difficult remembering, imagine and practice both subject and community differently.” [Immigrant Acts, 3]

 2.) What is “The Future of Culture”?

The "future of culture" should entail a forward-looking approach to acknowledging, addressing, fostering and nurturing the complex issues of identity and difference within our vast cultural terrain. 

 3.) How does CCA represent this statement?

CCA appears to imagine the "future" in relation to the addition of new programs, more real estate, notions of sustainability and more technology.

 4.) How does diversity relate to this statement?

 Diversity should be at the center of this statement, or at least a very strong priority.

 5.) Do you feel that CCA is a diverse campus? Why or why not?

 CCA is not diverse. It is not diverse enough. The statistics reflected in the Future of Culture posters are staggering and depressing. Queers and students and faculty of color and anyone who addresses the politics of identity in their practice or teaching are often 1) isolated and alienated, 2) asked to educate others about diversity, 3) when they do address issues of identity (in their practice or teaching), they are told that these issues are "passé" so "get over it."  In any given faculty meeting (search committee, faculty committee, gathering) I am often the only person of color and queer in the group. When I have pointed this out, I have been told (most recently by upper administration) that this is an "honest reflection of the way things are at CCA." This breaks my heart.

 

6.) What can the school do to support more diversity on campus?

CCA needs to actively recruit, hire, and support diverse faculty and staff. CCA should acknowledge and value the additional service and mentoring provided by diverse faculty and staff to their students. CCA needs to actively recruit and accept students from diverse backgrounds and provide scholarships and other forms of financial, educational and community support for these students. This should be seen as a priority for and the responsibility of the entire school, not the concern an isolated few.  In other words, CCA needs to attract, recruit, support, retain, and sustain diverse students, faculty and staff. CCA needs to be proactive about diversity. Diversity doesn't just "happen."   Diversity should be taught across the curriculum. It should be not be seen as the "bothersome" addition or afterthought but as a vital and constitutive aspect of all programming and curriculum.

 

Anonymous graduate student

 

1.) How would you define “Culture”? 

While taken from the dictionary, I think this definition is largely accurate: The totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought. b. These patterns, traits, and products considered as the expression of a particular period, class, community, or population: 

 

2.) What is “The Future of Culture”? 

 No idea as the statement is much too broad. Until seeing these banners around the city, I never associated CCA with such a statement. Just yesterday while near 16th and shotwell, saw one of these banners shredded or burned- basically destroyed. Perhaps they are somehow bothersome

 

3.) How does CCA represent this statement? 

Again no idea

 

4.) How does diversity relate to this statement? 

As culture is often associated with a set group, does CCA imply that its professed diversity will contribute to a myriad of cultures? If this is the case, then I would have to write that diversity in this context is largely problematic and adequately addressed. 

 

5.) Do you feel that CCA is a diverse campus? Why or why not? 

No. Look at the upper administration when doing faculty searches- those who seek out candidates from non-western backgrounds are themselves products of a very traditional, western background. This dissonance is problematic as good, dedicated professors are let go, as they may not outwardly adhere to a certain diverse agenda. Also, just in general look around at the students, the service staff, the faculty, and the office staff and consider the individuals who largely comprise each group and their socio-economic and racial backgrounds. Like most institutions who tow the diversity line, a certain pattern emerges.

 

6.) What can the school do to support more diversity on campus? 

Short term, if it weren't so blatantly hollow - that would be a nice start.

 

Vinquetta Frye, 2007 graduate

 

1.) How would you define “Culture”?

Culture is direct result of self and community expression. May that be family, sexually relate, gender or racially based communities.

 

2.) What is “The Future of Culture”?

The future of culture is the future of society because we make and influence culture.

 

3.) How does CCA represent this statement?

CCA tries to represent it by insinuating that our art will be the future of societies culture. Art has been used through out history to manipulate, inform and illustrate the current culture. In some corney
way we are the future.

4.) How does diversity relate to this statement?

It doesn't. The future of what culture? Whose culture?

 

5.) Do you feel that CCA is a diverse campus? Why or why not?

No. I must be 1 out of 23 black students. The campus is not as racial diverse as it could be. CCA is sexually diverse. CCA is tolerant of other cultural expressions but they are not taught or encouraged.

 

6.) What can the school do to support more diversity on campus?

I am not sure. Offer more courses that investigate other cultures. There was not one black instructor teaching a gd class when I was a student. Encourage an open floor or discussion on these topics. Realize what true diversity is. Know that diversity fulfillment is not checking off categories on a chart. 10 black, 4 Hispanics, 1600 Caucasians, 40 unknowns.

 

Bayeté Ross-smith, Photo and First Year/CORE, CCA Graduate student 2004, Faculty First Year/CORE 2007-2008       

 

1.) How would you define “Culture”?    

The arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement, philosophy, interactions and social practices.       

 

 2.) What is “The Future of Culture”?

Not CCA. I am not sure how I would describe that. It would include a variety of thought. A school as narrowly focused as a private art school, CANNOT be the future of culture. It works with such a small portion of the spectrum. Journalist, athletes, engineers, even scientists and mathematicians have a role in determining culture, if for no other reason than the work they do affects how "Creatives" interact with the world.

 

3.) How does CCA represent this statement?

It doesn't.

 

4.) How does diversity relate to this statement?

The future of culture would have to include diversity, both racial and ideological, in order to be the "Future"

 

5.) Do you feel that CCA is a diverse campus? Why or why not?

It does not. That's pretty obvious. There are essentially no Black or Latino people on campus and most of the Asian students I am aware of are east-Asian or of east-Asian decent, meaning Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Filipino. With the exception of Filipinos, I would say those other ethnicities are as close to white as you can get, without being white. The ideology and paradigm of CCA is very White American, and Eurocentric.

 

6.) What can the school do to support more diversity on campus?

The student issue is tricky. But CCA could do a lot more in regards to its faculty and board to have a diverse group of people and viewpoints. They could also form partnerships with other schools, organizations and institutions that bring truly diverse cultural elements to the school and student body. They could do partnerships with SF State or Some schools in the East Bay or with creative organizations whose base is something other than traditional White Art and craft.   For example, and this is drastically oversimplified but, I went to FAMU. Florida A&M University. It is a historically Black college, so 95% of our students where Black. However 2/3 of our faculty were Black. But my greater point is we had a joint campus program, with Florida State. So FAMU students can take classes at FSU and vice-versa. We also shared a school of engineering. The FAMU-FSU school of engineering. The only partnership I know of CCA having is with USF. Another private school, that is not so diverse in it's population or ideology.

 

 

David Heintz, Faculty First Year / Individualized

 

1.) How would you define “Culture”?

Culture is a sub category of “civilization” in that it represents skills, technology, attitudes, mores, learning, communication, and other aspects awkwardly defined as “lifestyle;” though “culture” implies to me localized or specialized “cultures,” or eras of time or history in which segments of civilization exhibited or expressed more narrowly defined sets of language, technology etc.   I also use culture in the context of a hierarchical value system which reflects levels of intelligence, complexity, value of knowledge, artistic relevance and durability, as reflected in “cultural forms,” artifacts, etc. in the general context of “art.”  (Incl.:  music, theater, visual art, literature, film etc., extended to popular culture, which often proves to operate at a high level of complexity and relevance.)

 

2.) What is “The Future of Culture”?

In my opinion the “future of culture” is balanced at a tipping point, the outcome of which will depend on the broader culture of the U.S. in particular, the industrialized “west,” and the rapidly developing “third world;” relative to their ability to deal with the rapidly emerging global crisis; as democracies, well- or poorly-informed populaces, or as emerging cultures which might have an odd mix of antiquated technologies (for transportation and agriculture for example) and present day access to electronic communication via cell phones, ipods. Video and the web.  The deciding factor, in the U.S. in particular will be whether a failing democracy, barely recognized as such, and a corrupt media information system, held in place by a totally obsolete mindset of consumption, war and waste, can allow the public to become informed enough, in a short enough period of time, to be prepared to dramatically alter their accepted “culture” of war and waste, to head off a massive, expanding and accelerating global environmental disaster.  I believe that civilization itself will survive, limp ahead, fail or crash, based on the culture’s ability (as an expression / extension of individual knowledge and free will) to break its own denial and initiate a radical, voluntary mind shift / paradigm shift.   

 

3.) How does CCA represent this statement?

As an institution, with a public face and “mission statement” I haven’t a clue.  As institutions of higher learning, art colleges face an increasingly paradoxical role in the culture-at-large:  they do in fact represent a coherent model for furthering and expanding the “higher” and more advanced cultural forms, and the knowledge that can accompany them. But at the present, the attitudes in the “culture” of the general public belie a growing contempt for knowledge, information, creativity etc. The larger culture (as controlled by a military / corporate elite), has failed to absorb and use its own cultural wealth and legacy, and these factors ignore and thereby hasten an unintended and unwitting slide toward mass destruction. 

 

4.) How does diversity relate to this statement?

In the broadest sense, the failure of U.S. media, government, and culture at large, is the failure to appreciate the diversity of life and global culture, to embody curiosity, the tolerance for stress, complexity and ambiguity that is necessary to accurately appraise our own present-moment situation.  In a narrower lens, the American public has been both conditioned and constrained into a culture:  that places low priority on education, high priority on consumption, apathy and denial; that chooses not to inform itself to the minimum level necessary for democracy and representative government to function even marginally. 

 

5.) Do you feel that CCA is a diverse campus? Why or why not?

Having been at the college for over thirty years, I’ve seen a great spectrum of changes, (which in retrospect range) from pathetic to fantastic.  The actual racial diversity – this is just an opinion, but it is based on my appreciation of having a diverse student body, and for the principle of democratic education – has diminished since the late 70s and early 80s, when there were more international students from all parts of the globe (unlike now when most of the international population seems to be Asian), and when there were a higher percentage of African American students than there are now.  My guess is the Hispanic population has stayed stable or increased over that time.  I do feel that programs like Art in Public Life have done great work in creating a “Cultural Diversity” and “public art” programs that are far superior to our efforts in the past (pre 1990 or so).  But in general I don’t feel the college has made the effort to seriously recruit, assist in funding, or assist in academic work, a demographic (particularly evident in Oakland) of bright, ambitious, creative, culturally sophisticated young people of diverse, local backgrounds. 

 

6.) What can the school do to support more diversity on campus?

Answer implicit above. 

 

 

Brittany Glover, student

 

1.) How would you define “Culture”? 

Culture is who you are, culture is color, where you come from and your story that makes you, you. 

 

2.) What is “The Future of Culture”?

 ...I think that I am the future of culture and so are many other people...the new ideas we bring to the world will determine what that future looks like.

 

3.) How does CCA represent this statement?

I really can't say but I don't think I see much culture in CCA...it sounds good as a "slogan"

However does CCA have a specific definition for culture and what do they think the future of culture is??? I really want to know.

 

4.) How does diversity relate to this statement?

Culture and diversity go hand in hand if there's no diversity there is no culture. It also depends on what CCA means by "the future of culture"

 

 

5.) Do you feel that CCA is a diverse campus? Why or why not?

No. I don't see much color at CCA. 

 

 

6.) What can the school do to support more diversity on campus?

Maybe reaching out to those who live in the surrounding neighborhoods and also encouraging more people of color to apply and those who can't really afford to be here but have the talent to.

 

 

Regina Rowland, CCA Senior Lecturer, CCA Consultant

 

1.) How would you define “Culture”? 

There are macro and micro cultures, often they are nested inside each other. I tend to think of it in a big picture Gestalt. Culture is a system which is composed of worldviews, basic assumptions, ways of thinking, beliefs, values, behaviors and actions all co constructed and shared by its participants. There are visible parts (top of the iceberg = behavior), and invisible parts (bottom of the iceberg = worldviews, basic assumptions, ways of thinking, beliefs, values.) Participants in this system are often not aware of their own cultural biases, and since much of culture is invisible conflicts begin on the layer that’s out of our awareness but nonetheless carries our assumptions and judgments, which may clash with others. 

 

2.) What is “The Future of Culture”? 

In my experience we are moving toward cultural hybridity into a polycultural world with a world centric orientation. I find that exciting and hopeful. 

 

3.) How does CCA represent this statement? 

I asked my students in my culture class earlier in the semester, and they didn’t take the statement so well. They actually interpreted it as a superior comment that made them feel talked down upon -- this is a highly diverse crowd with international experience. Personally, the statement caught my attention, but I couldn't tell what it meant to communicate other than my own interpretation which was something like "we hold the grail at CCA" which would, again, be a supremacist viewpoint. I know that CCA is trying really hard to come to grips with the many cultures that participate in it. What makes this a tough task is the fact that the entire suite of professions based on "design" is still framed in a worldview of universalism a la Bauhaus, and the faculty acts out of that frame. Some are more aware than others and embody it differently and/or break out of the paradigm. I would say that the students are more on the front of the wave than the faculty, and that the faculty has a lot to catch up on in this regard, but that there is definitely a move toward changing the paradigm to fit the globally networked parameters we now live in.

 

4.) How does diversity relate to this statement? 

The word culture seems commodified in this statement (which is what I think my students reacted to). 

 

5.) Do you feel that CCA is a diverse campus? Why or why not? 

Yes, we are a diverse campus on a macro and micro level, and we need to celebrate that more rather than make it a chore.

 

 

6.) What can the school do to support more diversity on campus?

Continue with faculty trainings so that there is a leadership that invites diversity and seeks it. Infuse culture in all classes. Hire students of color to recruit future students and represent the college in the public eye.

 

 

DANIEL GONZALES, Student, animation, painting, and drawing 

 

1.) How would you define “Culture”?

Culture is what makes a group of people different. It’s what separates Americans from the French it what separates Mexicans to the whites, it's what separates teenagers from adults. That’s what it is and nothing else. There’s details but this is what it all boils down to.

 

2.) What is “The Future of Culture”?

The future of culture is a slogan, I guess it's suppose to mean that who ever comes out of CCA will change "culture" which culture? African culture or South American culture? They mean American culture... and I think it could be possible, but every one at this college doesn't have that potential, but that’s why we're here, to FIND THAT OUT.

 

3.) How does CCA represent this statement?

That our school is and will change how cultures "ARE". I don't know why and how. They say culture as if there's only one culture to speak of! And there isn't. There’s tons of cultures out there. But I believe the statement is too vague and it isn't they're fault. It’s a consequence of having a white school. Because they are the majority in this school so called "four year University".

 

4.) How does diversity relate to this statement?

It doesn't, this STATEMENT ignores the fact that there's CULTURES and not just a culture that is the American culture.

 

5.) Do you feel that CCA is a diverse campus? Why or why not?

No, because ever since from moving from South East San Diego I have been around the most white people ever in my life hahaha. But no really because it's there, the statistics show and tell u why.

 

6.) What can the school do to support more diversity on campus?

Well they are already handing out scholarships.... that’s what got me here...and the first year program runs enough students away to balance it out... well make the school more appealing. Why do kids want to go to other schools? Bc they look nice they feel good and proud THEY"RE BIG.... u look at Berkley and then look at us.... makes u feel small.... we don't even have a nurses office... my preschool even had one. I say make it presentable. And here's what I suggest. Every one complains about the surrounding area at the SF campus. The ware house walls of the surrounding buildings the beat down fences...
...so FROM now on, for every senior that graduates and wants to, give them a designated area, maybe 3 by 3 foot space or whatever and let them leave their last mark as a student of the school in our SF neighborhood. (Of course we need the companies and owners of what ever wall we use) with 100% no censorship... it will catalog our school over time; it will record the thoughts of year and year generations. It will expand and become it's own LANDMARK bring recognition to CCA in SAN FRANCISCO...that thought there all ready would convince me to finish my remaining three years in CCA. And it HAS TO BE A FULL TIME STUDENT that has been here 3 or more years. BECUASE those student have been with CCA through good and hard times never transferring thru the ACADEMY OF ART, or the ART CENTER in Pasadena or even dropped out bc art school is "too hard"

 

 Megan Vrolijk, student

 

1.) How would you define “Culture”?

Culture- practices and taboos that shape a particular group of people's outlook. It can be defined by an area of people or race, however race is contingent on a previous area.

 

2.) What is “The Future of Culture”?

A marketing ploy by CCA to refer to Modernist and Post-modernist outlook on how art influences culture. It derives from a Western history, which ignores art from other countries and other practices of art outside of the Western history

 

3.) How does CCA represent this statement?

CCA makes the statement to stake its supposed claim to the art world, thus what shapes American culture. However, in a world of globalization, the statement becomes diffused and refers to all cultures. In a way, the statement is post modernism's last stab at claiming power over culture. What the larger culture on a whole responds to is for the most part not in a museum. It is on the streets, on the television, on billboards.

 

4.) How does diversity relate to this statement?

I think it is a historical problem of living in a country where the WASP majority has created much of culture. While this is changing, just look at the White House to see how far we have moved from these ideals.

 

5.) Do you feel that CCA is a diverse campus? Why or why not?

I think this is a difficult question to answer, because one would have to investigate how many minority applications are received. I think the problem originates at the basic level of education available to lower class citizens. To support equal opportunities, one should not simply target larger acceptance at the higher level, but promote awareness so that those at the higher-level education will give younger people the help they need to apply for loans and grants. The community arts program is a good method toward this goal, but education reform would be instrumental toward there ever being complete equal opportunity. 

 

6.) What can the school do to support more diversity on campus?

I think that awareness of the fact that younger students in lower economic classes, who are mostly minorities, are not given the opportunity due to high schools that do not provide instrumental education, lack of awareness of loans and grants, lack of education to gain loans and grants (such a writing skills), the need to have a job at a young age, and lack of individualized help. I think the school can help produce graduates that address these issues in their work and through mentorship. I think that grassroots work is what is needed, since an overall reform will probably not happen as long as wealth is distributed so unevenly.

 

Anonymous MFA Student    

   

 1.) How would you define “Culture”? 

Uh-oh. It's not clear anymore. I think it's a cultivated series of behaviors, habits, communication styles, symbols and means of exchange in an environment and population of people. 

 

2.) What is “The Future of Culture”? 

Scary. It's the poster for CCA. It makes me cringe...to think that it will be generated by a generally privileged, predominantly white group of urban people being groomed for the elite art market. 

 

3.) How does CCA represent this statement?    

Represent? On a street light, 20 feet up from the ground. I'm not sure what you mean. Except that the school for all of its value is a very specialized environment. Even the art here is very narrow in representing a breadth of art culture. The faculty, student body and staff are very homogenous. Actually, there is a distinct class line that follows race at cca. Nearly all of the security personnel are African American but very few of the students, administrators or faculty are. And the curriculum reflects the narrow areas of interest.  However, there are gender inclusive bathrooms in the grad building only. That's a relief. 

 

4.) How does diversity relate to this statement?

Diversity is a complicated word now. It has a kind of tokenism stuck to it these days. It is a scholarship some people get at cca. 

 

5.) Do you feel that CCA is a diverse campus? Why or why not? 

Not really. More so than some. I think because it is a private art institution, there are economic barriers that parallel race and ethnicity.  This perpetuates the thing I don't like about the art market. 

 

6.) What can the school do to support more diversity on campus?

Employ more faculty of color and with expertise in Art, History and theory from around the world or from Ethnic American areas of specialization.  I think Art institutions need to hook up with education and financial aid agencies in the not for profit sector that are tracking the academic achievement of kids from a younger age from a wide spectrum of racial and ethnic communities. Maybe by the time they are 16 or 17 they will consider going to art school. These may be few and far between but they are out there and it may increase the long-range enrollment goals. Rethink the Art History Survey in undergrad and graduate programs.  Integrate and expand the social practices curriculum into other departments. Include some classes attending to African, Chinese, Japanese, Latino, and whiteness studies. I am not Chinese but would take a contemporary Chinese art class in a heartbeat. Same with all of these emphases. Especially whiteness studies- if this is an ideological problem that exceeds the college itself then why not study the phenomenon and system of white [ness] in art and "culture"...especially since we invariably confront issues of representation as image and object makers.  I also think the school could include the LGBT forum in some form -- even dormant form -- in its student services so that it doesn't have to be reinvented every two years. Or maintain a membership with the San Francisco Queer Center for LGBT Art and Culture. So, there's a link for incoming students, staff and faculty. 

 

Jesse Trepper, student 

 

1.) How would you define "Culture"? 

I wouldn't try. It’s too broad.

 

2.) What is "The Future of Culture"?

 A meaningless slogan, possibly cooked up by the CCA advancement office.

 

3.) How does CCA represent this statement? 

Unclear 

 

4.) How does diversity relate to this statement?

Unclear 

 

5.) Do you feel that CCA is a diverse campus? Why or why not?

Not particularly, even if one takes into account the public safety and cleaning staff. The culture of cca is overwhelmingly white-dominated.

 

6.) What can the school do to support more diversity on campus?

-Hire a president who is interested in being active about "increasing diversity" on campus 

-Hire a visual studies professor who has a study focus in art that is usually ignored within the canon of European/American dominated Modern Art

-Reserve two or more full scholarships to the CCA Pre-College program for students from Arts Far West.

-Recruit actively from local public high schools

-List courses such as "African American Art" in the diversity studies section as well as the visual studies seminar section of the course catalog- it is important that art history courses specializing in the work of people of color count for general visual studies requirements, and that the structure of courses therefore encourages students to take more than one diversity studies seminar in their four years at CCA. 

-Offer a lot more diversity scholarships to acknowledge the educational disadvantage that many people of color in the public school system face and to make it possible for more people of color to attend CCA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mock poster, "The Future of Culture: 0.6% Pacific Islander" poster, 2007

Mock poster, "The Future of Culture: 7.0% Hispanic", 2007

 

Architecture student, Stephanie Brackett, with modified "Belize" buttons

 

The "Future of Culture" crew in 2007

 

CCA Professor, Amanda Williams, and CCA student/staff member, Hassan Abdul-Hameed

 

"After 100 years..." interactive poster, hung in front of CCA Student Affairs office

 

Camille Hoffman with classmate, Miranda Bergman

 

Student with "0.4%" and "10.4%" buttons

 

CCA grad student, Crow Cianciola, sporting all "Future of Culture" buttons

 

CCA architecture students posing with buttons

 

CCA grad student, Latasha Diggs, wearing "1.8%" and "0.4%" buttons

 

CCA student, Ryan Martin, with "58.6%" button

 

Button making with CCA student reps in front of Office of Student Affairs 

 

CCA Professor, Keith Thomas (right), and student

 
Students, Robert Yancey and Carlos Sevadra, sporting their buttons at CCA art opening

Students, Robert Yancey and Carlos Sevadra, sporting their buttons at CCA art opening

 

CCA Student with "7%" button

 

CCA Student, Ira Hawkins, and library staff member, Donald Smith

 

Student with "7%" button

 

Undergraduate painting student wearing multiple buttons

 

Students, Israel Haros Lopez and Latasha Diggs posing with CCA professor, Celia Hererra Rodriguez, and CAPL staff member, Vickie Vertiz

 

CCA architecture student posing with modified "10.4%" button

 

"Future of Culture" crayons and map (detail)

 

CCA student, Keith Magruder, with "1.8%" button

 

"Future of Culture" crew collecting data from maps

 

CCA student, Marnika Shelton, wearing "1.8%" button

 

CCA Student Cohort group posing with buttons